What is contributory negligence?

Distressed woman sitting in front of a rear-end car crashThe Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reports that 60% of cases involving personal injury stem from automobile accidents. However, in Virginia, whether an injury victim has the right to sue for her injuries depends heavily on contributory negligence law. If you’ve been in a car accident in Virginia, it’s important you understand what negligence is, what Virginia’s contributory negligence law is, how it affects your right to a claim, and how an attorney can help.

Defining Negligence

Legally, negligence is “a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. The behavior usually consists of actions, but can also consist of omissions when there is some duty to act,” according to the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University. This means:

  • Someone made a mistake or failed to act.
  • Someone else would have acted differently in the same or similar situation.
  • The mistake or failure to act resulted in damages.

Understanding Contributory Negligence

When it comes to personal injury lawsuits like car accidents, Virginia law says that if you contribute to your injury at all—even 1%—you do not have a legal right to sue for any damages or injuries resulting from the accident. Therefore, if the other side can prove that you were negligent or partially at fault, you will not be able to recover. Though this may seem harsh, it is the law.

You Need an Attorney After an Accident

As soon as you’re involved in an accident, it’s important you hire an attorney. Your recovery depends on it. When you hire an experienced lawyer, you put your case into the hands of someone who can:

  • Gather evidence in your favor
  • Prevent you from doing or saying things that could harm your case
  • Negotiate a fair settlement, when the time comes

Contact Our Team of Respected Lawyers

If you’ve recently been involved in an accident, only an attorney can help you navigate the contributory negligence laws that could affect your case. The team at Tavss Fletcher can help you achieve a positive result in your case, so contact us today. Get started with an online chat on our website.